What We’ve Learned From the USMNT European Adventure
The United States played two tough European opponents and were defeated in both matches. But we certainly learned something from both games, and thus this European Adventure has been useful for Bob Bradley.
- The US has its style: tactically Bob Bradley is modeling his team after what Carlo Ancelotti did at AC Milan. Two deep holding midfielders who go box to box, wingers who push inside and can hold the ball, and two strikers, one a target player and the other a workabee. Michael Bradley grew up a Milan supporter, so this setup will be comfortable for both father and son.
- The US has difficulty defending teams with a distinct attacking style. Slovakia under Vladimir Weiss counter attacks and doesn’t sustain a high defensive line. This allowed the US to control the midfield and the flow of the game. Slovakia was still dangerous on the counter but the game was very even. Denmark, however has had a distinct style of football with attacking flair for years. Even without most of its regulars, The Danes exploited the US’ tendency to man mark and to chase the ball, creating space and sustaining positive possession. This was even more disappointing because the Danes were without most of the nation’s top attacking threats.
- Jeff Cunningham’s work off the ball is needed with the lazy, unfit Jozy Altidore on the pitch. Cunningham has had the reputation of a goal poacher who cannot do anything without his pace. But in a cameo Saturday and on Wednesday he showed that he works hard off the ball and does the work Altidore either cannot or is simply unwilling to do.
- Frankie Hejduk’s age is becoming a factor.
- Jonathan Bornstein is rough around the edges but makes the right runs forward at the right times.
- Benny Feilhaber can hold the ball, but he’s more effective playing deep sending long balls forward. His crossing still needs work.
- Ricardo Clark is hit or miss.
- Stuart Holden is a keeper and needs to play in Europe.
- Losing to Slovakia may worry people, but the performance was decent. Losing to Denmark, even with a Danish “B” side has to be expected in Aarhus. Denmark as I have written before will be very strong next summer. Losing to them is shameful only to those who don’t know anything about their program. The Danish side right now is much stronger than the US, and much deeper as well. A US victory would have been a notable upset.